Today’s mom is often her family’s CFO so it’s prudent to make smart money moves. Here are five financial facts smart moms know:
1 – Have a trusted board of directors: We mamas can juggle a lot but can’t do it all. Financial solutions are not one size fits all so pull in experts to advise you on areas like taxes, insurance and banking. Rely on their knowledge to maximize your efforts and make wise choices. As an example, I tell my clients their home represents both the asset and liability side of their balance sheet and deserves proper attention and expertise.
2 – Manage your credit rating: Keeping your credit in good standing is crucial. Credit scores are how lenders determine your debt repayment behavior. Furthermore, utility and insurance companies - even employers - will evaluate your credit history for insight into your financial habits. It’s a smart move to check your credit for errors or derogatory information and resolve any issues as quickly as possible to minimize their impact. You are allowed to have one free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus each year and annualcreditreport.com is the sanctioned site to do so. Another comprehensive resource for credit information can be found at myfico.com.
3 – Have cash reserves: Businesses’ costs sometimes exceed their revenue. Similarly most families don’t budget for a major auto repair or other significant expense but they still occur. CFO moms know the importance of cash reserves for such emergencies. Conventional wisdom is to have three to six months’ of expenses held in a separate savings account. Finding extra money in your budget to fund a ‘rainy day fund’ is easier than you may think and very worthwhile.
4 – Leverage what you already have: Businesses often use tax incentives or equity to their advantage – your family can do the same. Do you or your spouse have a FSA through work? Using it can help you get more bang for your buck on childcare or healthcare expenses. Are you paying mortgage insurance? Call your mortgage company compare your balance to your home’s value. If you have at least 20% equity, you may be able to remove the monthly mortgage insurance to increase your monthly savings.
5 – Finding savings/deals is fun: How do you find extra money for cash reserves? Evaluate your budget: Where do you spend money and where could you save? Don’t want to break out the calculator? Try sites like mint.com that automatically review your spending and generate reports to get valuable insight. Become a deal hound: Find discounts on services or entertainment you already use at places like groupon.com. Start playing the coupon game and learn how from domestic goddesses on sites like hotcouponworld.com. Finding great deals are fun and small savings add up!
Moms are the center of their family and frequently the family finances. As your family’s CFO, you have all the tools to make savvy money choices so make the most of it!
Rebecca Madej, a CharlotteMommies member, works for Cunningham & Company Mortgage Bankers. She is the recipient of two Cunningham & Company President's Circle Awards, and she was named a Five Star professional by Charlotte Magazine. She excels at demystifying the financial process through a weekly "Monday Money Matters" e-newsletter and on her blog at rebeccamadej.com. Her passion for finance and the bigger-picture market issues is strong, rivaled only by her desire to educate consumers.